Dakota Johnson, Rebel Wilson Salute Their Solo Milestones at 'How to Be Single' Premiere

Alison Brie, Rebel Wilson, Leslie Mann and Dakota Johnson
Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

"The whole reason I wanted to do this movie was to make sure that women feel like it's OK to just figure out who they are," Johnson said of the offbeat rom-com.

Dakota Johnson hopes young female audiences learn a key lesson from How to Be Single.

"Society has become a little bit more accepting of young women not having to attach themselves to a man in order to have an identity," she told The Hollywood Reporter at the Wednesday night premiere of the film that follows a set of singles in New York City. "The whole reason I wanted to do this movie was to make sure that women feel like it's OK to just figure out who they are and what they want to do with their lives and their brains, and take time to cultivate their personalities and interests. That's something I haven't really seen in a romantic comedy these days."

Such a message is also generally unseen beyond the big screen. "It's disgusting," said Anders Holm of the societal stigma that tends to apply to single women more than men. "We [men] hide behind, 'He's probably super career-driven,' and 'Why would he want to settle down?' But it's really, mentally, they're a little crazy. I had friends in my 20s who were players, ballin' out of control, doing really well at the clubs. Now they're still single, a little fatter, a little sadder; they're lonely guys with cocaine problems!"

So why does the singlehood stigma surround women specifically? "It just has to do with the window of making babies," explained Jake Lacy, "and the horrendously unfair fact that if you're 30 and don't have a kid, people ask, 'When's that gonna happen?' But for a guy, 'He's 60 and just settling down!' Because he can, which is just so brutally unfair."

Altogether, the Valentine's Day weekend release aims to show how singledom, when spent effectively, can be chock-full of invaluable self-discovery and major milestone moments — a message to which the cast and their loved ones personally relate and happily celebrated at the premiere.

For example, screenwriter Abby Kohn began French-language conversation lessons she still uses today, and writing partner Marc Silverstein hired a trainer and got into shape. Holm remembered feeling strong whenever successfully assembling Ikea furniture. "It's so satisfying — everyone's like, 'You gotta just get someone on TaskRabbit to do it,' and I'm like, 'No, I can do this. Hear me roar."

Rebel Wilson will never forget climbing the Drakensberg mountains in South Africa. "I got up really early just to climb it and when I got to the top, there were wild baboons — it was the most magical thing," she recalled. "Those kind of adventures I think they're easier to have when you're single because you can just go out and explore the world."

Alison Brie generally learned how to stand on her own two feet while single — "Independence is something that's not synonymous with being single, and you can still retain that independence in a relationship," she stressed — and Lacy proudly continues to fully apply himself to a career in acting. Leslie Mann's husband, Judd Apatow, joked, "Even just getting a date seemed like an achievement; just getting anyone to spend any time with me felt like a gigantic success!"

But Johnson told THR that she isn't sure about what she's proud of achieving while single. "Not yet. I'll get there," she smiled at the Bowery Hotel afterparty. "I have faith that I will get there. Check back in with me in two years."

How to Be Single hits theaters Feb. 12.

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